Written by Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A new program has gotten corporate sponsors to fund 350 learning tools and videos to help budding Black entrepreneurs grow their businesses and tackle economic inequities exposed in the coronavirus pandemic.
The Black Entrepreneur Initiative has brought together a group of community leaders and entrepreneurs to guide 100,000 Black business owners, including journalist and actress Cathleen Trigg-Jones who started a production company in 2006 after working on then-Sen. Joe Biden's communications team.
She told Joe Connolly on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, that her first sale came while she was working as a news anchor for Fox 5 and My 9 in New York City and supporting her husband's marketing and shooting and editing commercials for his medical practice.
"His business was growing and people started asking hm, 'How did you do it?'" Trigg-Jones explained. "The clients started coming my way."
Her company Catscape Productions produces entertaining and socially-focused content for networks, including NBC, CNN, FOX, TNT, MSG, MTV and CNBC. Trigg-Jones has acted in the CBS drama "Madam Secretary," "House of Cards" on Netflix and SHOWTIME's "Homeland."
She told Connolly that her business, like many, started with a passion for media; she developed her business skills over time.
"Start a business because it's something that you're passionate about, something that you are an expert in," Trigg-Jones said. "Customers are looking for authenticity."
Through the Black Entrepreneur Initiative in partnership with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a New York-based nonprofit, members learn management tools, vendor relations, payroll and other foundational skills needed to grow a business.
Ambassadors, like Trigg-Jones, share their life experiences through weekly live coaching sessions intended to encourage Black entrepreneurs to fight through adversity and systemic issues they face. The Federal Reserve recently found white families earn eight-times the amount of typical Black families; economists believe the wealth gap is widening in the pandemic.
"I was left at an orphanage as a baby and I spent the first couple of years of my life in foster care," she told WCBS 880 of her message to members.
"There are no mistakes in life. There's just growth and there's just opportunity if you just believe and if you're open to it."
Learn more about Trigg-Jones’ inspiring story and the Black Entrepreneur Initiative on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or the media player above.